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Applications to Assist in Analysis and Re-Engineering of Printed Circuit Board Assemblies


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Microelectronics OBJECTIVE: Design and implement technologies to assist in the process of extracting a printed circuit board design non-destructively from a printed circuit board assembly. These technologies may be purely software based or include a hardware component. DESCRIPTION: The weapons systems of the Department of Defense (DoD) rely heavily on microelectronics to function. Sometimes the DoD does not have access to the technical design data for these microelectronics. In order to obtain the technical design data for these systems, the Defense Microelectronics Activity will analyze printed circuit boards (PCBs) and circuit card assemblies (CCAs) to create a technical data package that includes a schematic, Gerber file, and bill of materials (BoM). Sometimes the intent is to re-engineer the CCA, which requires the Gerber file to meet design rule checks and be manufacturable. The analysis may involve visual inspection, removing components to identify them, X-ray computed tomography (CT) of PCBs or CCAs, and use of a flying pin prober. There are a number of aspects of this process that are still challenging and DMEA seeks technologies to improve the process. Some examples of the challenging areas include: • Passive Components: o Identify passive component values in an automated way • Visual Inspection: o Identification of components from image, including extracting text, logos, and silkscreen labels • X-ray CT of CCA: o Beam hardening and scattering from components can obscure traces on the PCB o Low dosage required to not damage flash components with ionizing radiation o Extracting the layers of the PCB with board warping and reconstruction artifacts • Clean design extraction: o Generate a Gerber file from the layer images that conforms to design rules, minimizes polygon vertices, and matches the original design as closely as possible. DMEA is looking for technologies that can be incorporated into existing PCB and CCA analysis workflows to help address challenges or automate tasks that are currently manual. PHASE I: Conduct research on technology that addresses one or more challenges associated with non-destructively generating a schematic, bill of materials, and/or Gerber file of a CCA. The end product of Phase I is a feasibility study report, in which the following must be specified: 1) A clear description of the technology and how it is applied. 2) Any associated hardware required as part of the technology solution (e.g. fixturing, sensors, cameras, tools, etc.). 3) A clear description of any required hardware, software, training datasets or other requirements for the effective implementation of the technology. 4) A clear description of how to incorporate the technology into an overall workflow to generate the schematic, bill of materials, and/or Gerber file of a CCA. PHASE II: Develop a prototype of the Phase I concept and demonstrate its operation. Validate the performance in a way that realistically demonstrates how the technology would be deployed. This demonstration will include scalability of the technology in terms of capacity, cost, and time. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: There may be opportunities for further development of this innovation for use in a specific military or commercial application. During a Phase III program, the contractor may refine the performance of the design and produce pre-production quantities for evaluation by the Government. The proposed technology will be applicable to both commercial and government fields that require an added level of security for their microelectronics parts. Government applications include anti-counterfeit applications and acquisition processes for microelectronics parts for weapon systems and other critical systems. REFERENCES: 1. Asadizanjani N, Tehranipoor M, Forte D. PCB Reverse Engineering Using Non-destructiveX-ray Tomography and Advanced Image Processing. 2016. IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging, and Manufacturing Technology. DOI: 10.1109/TCPMT.2016.2642824. 2. Park HS, Chung YE, Seo JK. Computed tomographic beam-hardening artefacts: mathematical characterization and analysis. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2015 Jun 13;373(2043):20140388. doi: 10.1098/rsta.2014.0388. PMID: 25939628; PMCID: PMC4424484. KEYWORDS: PCB, PCBA, CCA, X-ray CT, Electronics, Microelectronics
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